Housekeeping Tips for Reducing Stress
Your home is your sanctuary. It is the one place you can go to escape the outside world and simply be yourself. Unfortunately, this is one area that often gets neglected when you’re under a lot of stress. Housekeeping itself can exacerbate an already stressful life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find cleaning my home to be particularly relaxing.
Whether you’re a mom who works from home, or a woman who works outside of the home, your housekeeping duties don’t have to be another source of stress. There are things you can do to help make housekeeping a little less painful. Here are a few suggestions to help make the job less stressful and still have the sanctuary you deserve.
If you’re like me, delegating tasks is one of the hardest things for you to do. Like they say, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a very practical motto. We can't do it all. We may like to think we’re superwoman, but in reality, we’re not even close.
If you have kids, delegating chores to them is a great way to teach them responsibility and to give them a bit of independence. Putting them in charge of cleaning their room, or folding and putting away their laundry can be very empowering. It also gives you a little less laundry to fold!
Don’t forget your spouse! Your significant other can be indispensable in keeping your house a home (you are a team after all). The trick is getting them to actually do the chores. Try to delegate chores they may actually like to do. For example, my husband loves to be outside, so yard work can actually be fun for him, and I don’t have to get bitten up by mosquitos!
Get Into a Routine
Humans are creatures of habit, and we can use that to our advantage by creating a cleaning routine and sticking to it. Once you get in the habit of doing the same chores at specific times, it becomes a cinch to keep up on the house work.
It doesn’t matter how you “schedule” the routine, just as long as it works for you. You don’t even have to schedule a specific time to do your chores. You can simply just put them in a certain order and consistently do them in that order every day. It’s the repetitive nature of the routine that compels us to make it a habit. Some people may need to actually schedule their routine down to the minute; I’ve found it much more beneficial to just have a certain order in which to do things.
Do the Most Hateful Chores First
Get the hard stuff out of the way. Starting your day by accomplishing a task that you despise can really set the momentum for the rest of the day. Crossing that task off your to-do list is very empowering, and that can help you be more productive during the rest of the day.
For example, my most dreaded chore is cleaning out the litter boxes, but we have six cats, so all of them have to be scooped at least once a day. I clean the litter boxes right after breakfast and the sense of accomplishment I get from finishing that chore does wonders for my productivity as well as my mood!
Not everyone likes to plan their day, let alone their week, but it can be very helpful to see things “in black and white.” Plus, you’re less likely to forget to do something if you write it down.
Planning is a very individual task. The system I use most likely won’t work for you, and the system you use won’t work for someone else, etc. I think that’s what makes planning so difficult – finding the right system for you. Unfortunately, the process of finding what works for you is a lot like practicing medicine. It’s all trial and error.
Some people need an entire home management binder, others do fine with just a sticky note and a pen and still others need an app for that. The point of planning your day or week is to alleviate the stress of the master to-do list floating around in your head. Getting it out of your mind and onto paper allows your mind some much needed space for other, more enjoyable things.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
My mom’s house is impeccably clean. You could eat off the floor and if you were sick you'd actually get better. But not all of us need, or even want that clean of a home, and even if you do, you’re going to slack off every now and then. Our willpower just isn’t that strong, so don’t beat yourself up for it.
Willpower is an amazing thing, but it’s a lot like a muscle in your arm or leg. You can only use it for so long before it gives out, and like all muscles when they’re injured, it takes time to heal.
I actually found this out the hard way. For two years, I pushed myself to work out every day, kept to a very strict diet, and I lost 70lbs. But then all of a sudden, I couldn’t push myself anymore. For the next year, I couldn’t force myself to exercise, I kept straying from my diet and of course I gained some of the weight back. I had strained my willpower and it gave out.
But like any other muscle, willpower can be strengthened. If you find you just can’t push yourself to get something done today, don’t berate yourself. Instead accept that you do have limitations, and try again tomorrow. I’ve gotten back to exercising, but I’m not pushing myself to do it every day, and I’m actually getting in regular exercise and enjoying it, instead of dreading it and only exercising once a week.
Find the Joy in the Everyday Activities
This one is really difficult for most people. How do you find joy in cleaning the dishes? Our lives are nothing more than a collection of moments. Cleaning, mowing the lawn, running errands, all of these things are necessary and they take up the majority of our “moments.” Our day to day activities are what make up our lives, and if we have to do them, we might as well find something about them to enjoy.
If you can’t find something about the activity to enjoy, make it enjoyable. If you’re cleaning the dishes, play some music and use scented dish soap to make the task more pleasant. I use a lavender scented dish soap that has a very calming effect.
Take Some You Time
I know this is a bit cliché, but that’s only because it’s so important. Take some time to do something you like to do, and it doesn’t have to be alone time. Spend time with your family, go out with friends, read a good book, do a craft or take a class online. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy doing it, and it gives you a chance to escape form the things that cause you the most stress. Housekeeping doesn't just mean your physical house, your mind needs some TLC too!
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© 2013 Melissa Flagg COA OSC